“Revival” is a fitting name for a small group of craftspeople and metalworkers in Sidney who are turning out some of the finest stills in North America. Engineers Brandon Fry and Darcy Lane founded Revival Stillworks in 2019 to help fuel the movement by providing planning, engineering, manufacturing and support for craft distillers. All of their equipment is designed and manufactured locally by their team of coppersmiths, welders and fabricators, and shipped all over North America and as far afield as Australia. Their stills combine the best of centuries-old tradition and modern technology.
Inside a nondescript warehouse near YYJ, Revival is a hive of activity, with copper and steel distilling equipment scattered in various stages of fabrication. The gleaming copper pots and columns are not just esthetically pleasing, they serve an important purpose in the distilling process. Copper is an excellent conductor of heat and also acts to remove nasty sulphur compounds from the spirit. Plus, it looks downright beautiful.
The design and configuration of a still can vary dramatically depending on the type of spirit, the volume and the style a customer demands. Revival spends many hours with a prospective client analyzing production goals as well as details like permits and compliance issues, fire safety and storage needs. Only then will fabrication begin. A midsize still, say 1,000 litres with a side column able to produce anything from whisky to rum, would run about $150,000 and up, depending on bells and whistles.
Currently there are half a dozen stills in production, some as huge as 5,000 litres. Revival’s business goals are to grow slowly but steadily, by specializing in custom work rather than stock. Says sales director Mike Lewis, “No two stills we build are the same. There’s no such thing as off the shelf.”